Change

I had an “Ah Ha” moment about a month ago. But it all started last December. I follow a Christian Women’s Business Group and the leader always challenges us to find a word for the upcoming year. We start in October and begin praying that God will plant in our minds His choice of word and then we wait and watch to see what happens. Our leader’s word for last year was “peace” and she spent the whole year seeking to create peace in her business and family and learning to find personal peace by relying on God in a daily way. My word a year ago - for 2015 - was “Challenges”. 

Needless to say, that didn’t thrill me too much! And indeed, 2015 was filled with many challenges, both physical and emotional and spiritual. But I decided to embrace it and was ready and spent much of my devotional time praying ahead for the challenges I knew were coming and getting my heart and mind and soul lined up with God so I could face those challenges in His way. And I learned that challenges aren’t necessarily a bad thing – I learned so much about God and about myself – I was even thankful for that year of challenges for the ways I had grown spiritually.

Nevertheless, I breathed a sigh of relief when 2015 began to draw to a close, and 2016 loomed on the horizon. I prayed over a new word for 2016 with a little more hope and optimism since I had “passed” the 2015 challenges with what I considered an “A+”. 

Then it came. 2016’s word. “Change”. 

“That’s not fair.” 

That’s what I wrote in my journal. A year of challenges, now a year of change? Phooey! I was hoping for “Blessings” or “Relax a while now” or “What a good girl – why don’t you take a long vacation!” Ha! 

Well, after my pity party and temper tantrum, I settled down and tried to embrace God’s chosen word like I had the year before. The verse God gave me to accompany my word was Isaiah 43:19. “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

So, that sounded pretty good. God would be making new paths for me, sending rivers of whatever – blessings, peace, rewards, etc. OK. I figured I could do this. “Change” didn’t have to be bad! Change could be good things, too! 

  • January came and went – didn’t really see any changes.
  • February came and went – didn’t really see any changes.
  • March came and went – didn’t really see any changes.
  • April came and went – didn’t really see any changes.
  • May came and went – didn’t really see any changes.
  • June came and we started the ladies’ Sunday School Class and a new devotional book. But I didn’t really see any changes.
  • July came and went – didn’t really see any changes.
  • August came and went – didn’t really see any changes.
  • September came and went – didn’t really see any changes.
  • October came. And my pity party was worse than ever. I had banked on those changes – those good changes – and nothing had happened all year!! What’s up with that? The year of “Challenges” had been all year. When was this big “change” coming?? If anything, things had gotten worse and I was still facing some challenges in my business that I felt were God’s responsibility to fix. It left me questioning and pity partying again. 

So, one morning mid-October, I was sitting in my chair in the morning, and instead of doing my daily devotions, I started asking God all the “whys” – questioning and whining and wondering why it is He wasn’t meeting my needs like He should have. And then it came. Not an audible voice, mind you, but a thought so clear and so distinct that it couldn’t be ignored. 

“You’re like a petulant, rebellious teenager that isn’t mature enough for Me to even answer.” 

Then dead silence. And let me tell you, I did not like being called immature! I was a little indignant. I got saved at the age of 4. I rededicated my life to God as a high schooler. I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to serve and love God as best I can. I am truly grateful for my salvation and I try to show it with my actions every day. And I AM A TEENAGER SPIRITUALLY??!!

But after a while, I tried to see what God had said from a parent’s perspective, and I imagined a teenager asking to go to party that you, the parent, knew was going to be a bad place to be. But how do you explain it to a teenager? They can’t see the dangers and pitfalls like you can – they might only think “Don’t you trust me not to drink or do drugs?” – they wouldn’t understand all the things that could possibly happen regardless of their good intentions. And if you tried to explain it to them, it would just be fodder for them trying to give you reasons why your reasons weren’t valid! 

But a mature teenager would understand that their parent could see some dangers that they didn’t understand and they would trust their parents’ decision – and even though they wanted to go, they would obey and stay home, trusting that their parents knew what was good for them. 

I wanted to be that mature teenager – not the immature one, so eventually, I gave in to God and told him I wanted to grow up and see things like He did and that I would trust Him to do what he wanted and would He please help me understand and readjust my life and thinking to His ways. 

And then it happened – that “AH HA” moment. 2016’s “Change” was ME! 

It was never meant to be circumstances, or people around me, or my business or anything else. That word was meant for me personally! Boy am I slow!

So then, I began to look back.

In January - I had been overwhelmed by waves of fear – fear for my business – would it make it another year, would I fail, would I make the wrong decisions, was I ruining my family that I spent so many years building, by now owning a business, was my last child going to hate me because I wasn’t the stay at home Mom I had been for all his siblings, would I, would I, was I, what if…

And God had said:

Quiet down, far flung ocean islands. Listen! Sit down and rest, everyone. Recover your strength. Gather around me. Say what’s on your heart. Together let’s decide what’s right. Isaiah 41:1

In February – I had been terrified that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand for Chocolates for Valentine’s Day 

And God had said:

The opposite of fear is faith and then gave me: 4 new helpers that learned quickly and settled right into being my chocolate truffle crew and I breathed again.

In March – I had to keep paying those workers! And the fear was back.

And God had said:

“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. Isaiah 55

In April – I wrote in my journal “I feel so utterly unworthy of this task, Lord. I am completely incompetent and totally overwhelmed. Even with the help you have given and your history of taking care of things – I am not up to the task. I do not have the faith it takes to run these 2 businesses in 2 locations. I need your help. I need more faith.”

And God said:

Do what’s right and do it in the right way, for salvation is just around the corner, my setting things right is about to go into action. How blessed are you who enter into these things, you men and women who embrace them. Isaiah 56

In May – I was beset with bad attitudes towards everyone and everything – I just wanted to retreat from life altogether. I needed an attitude adjustment!

And God said:

Listen to this, you scatterbrains, airheads, with eyes that see but don’t really look, and ears that hear but don’t really listen. Why don’t you honor me? Why aren’t you in awe of me? …Of course you don’t! Your bad behavior blinds you to all this. Your sins keep my blessings at a distance. Jeremiah 5

So I repented.

In June – my journaling changed. My entries weren’t so much about what I was struggling with or what I needed God to do. My entries were copied from the devotional book we were using in the new Sunday School class; encouraging, challenging, teaching entries that had spoken to my heart. 

And God said:

God’s Message: Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom. Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits. Don’t let the rich brag of their riches. If you brag, brag of this, and this only: That you understand and know me. I’m God, and I act in loyal love. I do what’s right and set things right and fair, and delight in those who do the same things. These are my trademarks.
God’s decree. Jeremiah 9

In July – the waves of fear returned. I wrote in my journal “I. AM. TERRIFIED.”
And this time it was being fearful that I would always be this way, that I would never conquer fear itself, that God would never be able to move for me, to move me past myself, that I would be stuck always struggling for the rest of my life, that I would never be of any value to God or His plans here on earth. 

And God said:

  • How long will you flit here and there, indecisive?
  • How long before you make up your fickle mind?

God will create a new thing in this land: A transformed woman will embrace a transforming God! Jeremiah 31:22 

In August – the waves of fear threatened to overwhelm me. I was literally immobilized one night with everything from this whole year. It all threatened to wash over me like a giant wave and drown me. I was driven to my journal and began to unleash all of the hidden fears that I didn’t even know were there. I wrote “I want to be healed, Lord, of these deepest fears. Fears that I am not enough. Fears of failure. Fears of not pleasing you. Fears of missing your plan. Fears of you being disappointed in me. Fears that I will have to live with myself the rest of my life – that you will give up on me. Fears that I will have to live in need the rest of my life and will never experience having enough to give away again. Fears that others will blame me and point the finger at me and not like me anymore. Fears that friendships will be ruined, and family won’t like me anymore. Fears that I am really a terrible person inside and that that person is going to come out any time. Fears that others will see the real me and not like me. Fears, fears, fears. Fears that I’ll never see your deliverance. Fears that I won’t be everything you wanted me to be. Fears that I won’t be special to you.

FEAR HAS HAD ME TOO LONG!

And God said:

From the devotional Jesus Calling

Aug 21  

Wait with me for a while. I have much to tell you. You are walking along the path I have chosen for you. It is both a privileged and perilous way: experiencing My glorious Presence and heralding that reality to others. Sometimes you feel presumptuous to be carrying out such an assignment.

Do not worry about what other people think of you. The work I am doing in you is hidden at first. But eventually blossoms will burst forth, and abundant fruit will be born. Stay on the path of Life with Me. Trust me wholeheartedly, letting My Spirit fill you with Joy and Peace.
     
Aug 22  

Trust me and don’t be afraid. I want you to view trials as exercises designed to develop your trust muscles. You live in the midst of fierce spiritual battles, and fear is one of Satan’s favorite weapons. When you start to feel afraid, affirm you trust in Me. Speak out loud, if circumstances permit. RESIST THE DEVIL IN MY NAME, AND HE WILL SLINK AWAY FROM YOU. Refresh yourself in my holy presence. Speak or sing praises to Me, and my face will shine radiantly upon you. Remember that there is no condemnation for those who belong to Me. You have been judged NOT GUILTY for all eternity. Trust Me, and don’t be afraid; for I am your Strength, Song, and Salvation.

And I wrote in my journal: August 22, 2016

“This is where I plant my stake. Just like Salvation, you have settled the questions and fears today. I will no longer doubt or fear. I trust you wholeheartedly today, right now. You will provide. I will stand on this.”

In September – I wrote in my journal:

“Jesus Calling - Open your mind and heart – your entire being – to receive My Love in full measure. So many of my children limp through their lives starved for Love because they haven’t learned the art of receiving. This is essentially an act of faith; believing that I love you with boundless, everlasting love. The art of receiving is also a discipline; training your mind to trust me, coming close to Me with confidence.”

And I said; Father, Receiving your love is an act of faith – believing that you love us with boundless, everlasting love. But ALSO Receiving is a discipline; training our minds to trust you – coming close to you with confidence. It’s part of my training in discipline to come close to you with confidence and receiving whatever you have for me for each challenge. Even if it’s only the bare minimum and not the overflowing abundance. Discipline. Help me with that! You know that’s hard for me!

And God said:

Quiet down, far flung ocean islands. Listen! Sit down and rest, everyone. Recover your strength. Gather around me. Say what’s on your heart. Together let’s decide what’s right. Isaiah 41:1
“Oh yes, back where we started this year. Sigh. Maybe I’ll grow up someday!!”

In October – I had a need. I prayed. I waited. I didn’t fear. (Well maybe just a little). But I didn’t let it overwhelm me. I whispered “Jesus, I trust you.” And I waited. And I waited. And I talked to trustworthy people. And I waited. 

And God said:

Jesus Calling for Oct 4

I am the creator of heaven and earth; Lord of all that is and all that will ever be. Although I am unimaginably vast, I choose to dwell within you, permeating you with My Presence. Only in the spirit realm could Someone so infinitely great live within someone so very small. Be awed by the Power and the Glory of My Spirit within you! 

Though the Holy Spirit is infinite, He deigns to be your Helper. He is always ready to offer assistance; all you need to do is ask. When the path before you looks easy and straightforward, you may be tempted to go it alone instead of relying on Me. This is when you are in the greatest danger of stumbling. Ask My Spirit to help you as you go each step of the way. Never neglect this glorious Source of strength within you. 

And I said, “Thank you Lord for this latest challenge that is teaching me to rely on You. This is what I need, Father. More of your Spirit. More remembering to call on Him to help me! Help me do it!”

In November – I waited. And I waited. And God met my need over and above what I could have thought or asked. Was it 2 weeks later than I thought I wanted/needed it? Yes. Sigh. I never WILL understand that Heavenly time! Was it ok? Yes. Am I grateful? Yes. Am I changed? Yes. 

Will I fear again? Probably. But I feared less this month. I waited longer for God’s deliverance. I trusted more. I obeyed more. Thank you God for changing ME this year. 

Ps – this song has been extremely instrumental to me this year in fighting fear and learning to stand on God’s promises. No Longer Slaves – you can listen to it here. That song became my go to all year – I played it every day when I went to work – over and over and over. And the fears subsided. I was changing slowly, without even realizing it! – learning to overcome Satan’s attacks of fear.

- Linda


Linda Armes

.... is a member of the Maple Grove Praise Team and a co-leader of the Women’s Sunday School Class. She has attended Maple Grove for 16 years along with her husband, Rod – you can find him serving donuts and coffee on Sunday mornings – and 7 children. Now a grandmother of 4, Linda was a stay at home, homeschooling Mom most of her life, but more recently started PeaceTree Mountain Truffles, and also owns The Olive Leaf, here in Bloomington and also in Plainfield. Her life verse is I John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petition that we desired of Him.”